As the new school year launches, rural districts nationwide are dealing with the same chronic issues: teacher shortages, increasing poverty, and declining enrollments. These schools also tend to have less access to technology and fewer resources and course offerings for students. According to a new report by the National Association of the State Boards of Education, several states are succeeding at tackling some of these challenges and improving more opportunities for rural students. Here are some of the most promising efforts from the states highlighted in the report:
The Ohio Appalachian Collaborative, made up of 21 rural districts in the state, has worked together to share resources and services. As a result, the number of students who are taking dual enrollment courses has increased by 186 percent since 2010, and the number of students taking the ACT exam in these districts has increased by 11 percent since 2009.
Small rural districts in Colorado have flexibility when it comes to filing some reports with the state and showing student achievement. That allows district staff members to focus more on instruction rather than administrative work.
3. North Carolina
Students in rural North Carolina have increasing access to early-college high schools due to collaborations between nonprofits, school districts, and community colleges. This helps rural students, who are less likely to attend college than their non-rural peers, earn college credit while still in high school.
Nebraska has utilized community schools, which partner with community organizations to provide wraparound services to rural students who may lack access to amenities like health care and additional learning opportunities.
To improve rural districts, the report also suggested four areas that states should focus on, including improving access to technology and technology training and relying on partnerships and collaboration with other schools and organizations to offer more resources to students. States should also provide flexible funding to rural schools and prioritize recruiting and training quality teachers and staff members.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.